Everyone is different and therefore different styles of music appeal to each of us. What makes one of us feel all happy and calm and able to reset and later take on the world may make someone else just feel bored. Or kind of irritated.

However. I have picked a bunch of songs that are positive and calming and exude a hopefully universal vibe of “everything is better now“, “my head is a less stressed place to be after hearing that” and general wellbeing. Discovering new music is good. So have a go at listening to this little lot. Much of it is instrumental, so that you can focus on the sound and not be distracted by lyrics.

I hope you find something you like.

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Music For a Found Harmonium

You may recognise this tune as the one that plays at the end of the film Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra
The Penguin Cafe Orchestra

It’s a hopeful song. Sort of a “things have changed for the better and good things are on the horizon” sort of song. It has a comforting repetition about it that reminds me of 16th Century village folk rebuilding their lives after a storm and coming out into the sunshine to continue with their day as if nothing could stop them. We are not 16th Century village folk but it’s hard not to be buoyed forwards by the bouncing melody here. It’s all very keep calm and carry on. 

Mr Scruff – Blackpool Roll

This is a great track for when you’re feeling stressed, especially if you’re a commuter. Put your earphones in and play this tune just as you’re about to pitch forwards into the daily bustle and alarming speed of the morning rush for the train or Tube. There’s something slightly ridiculous and extremely comical about it and you’ll see the same commuters that usually fill you with rage turn into farcical figures, all pointlessly jostling to get somewhere that isn’t going anywhere under the spotlight of the joyful seaside music. Everything suddenly becomes lighter and funnier.

Also, you’ll wish you were at the beach with a bucket and spade. 

Yann Tiersen – J’y Suis Jamais AllĂ©

This is part of the soundtrack to the 2001 movie Amelie. The entire soundtrack is soothing in a way that only gentle French music seems to be, but this is the lead track and stands on it’s own very well if you only have time to listen to one short piece of music. At 1 minute 34 seconds it’s a quick little pick me up for if you’re feeling sad and has a brilliant calming effect for when you’ve had a supremely bad day. Take a minute to listen to this and let your shoulders relax and notice something small and joyful that you might otherwise miss, just like in the film.

Oh, and watch the film. If you haven’t already. Life is hard but Amelie likes to skim stones and sees the world in a series of bright greens and reds and yellows. That’s sort of how this track will make you feel. 


Simon & Garfunkel – The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

This song has lyrics but as one of them is “hey lamppost, whatcha known?” it’s not taking itself very seriously. The opening line is ‘slow down, you’re moving too fast’ and the whole idea of the song is that it’s time to let go and relax a little bit and start strolling instead of hurrying. It’s incredibly positive and has a lot of “ba ba ba ba la la la” at the end, which is always nice. Listen to this and escape into a bit of a gentle trance for a bit. All the day’s worries can wait til a bit later on. 

Alucidnation – Skygazer (3002 Remix)

I went to see Alucidnation play at The Big Chill Festival in August 2006 and he turned out to be a middle aged man with a laptop and a big screen that showed fluffy clouds and gentle lapping waves throughout his set. The stage was on the side of a hill and the sun was going down. I don’t think that you needed to be there to be able to visualise those things as you listen to this. It’s a great track to fall asleep to.

I don’t know where that guy is now (I never heard of him before or since) but I’m very grateful to him for creating this piece of music. It even  has the sound of the sea in it. What more could you ask for?


Mogwai – Tracy (Kid Loco’s Playing With the Young Team Remix)

This tune is the sort of thing that plays at the end of a movie where the lead characters walk off into the sunset and everything has come to a suitable conclusion, although you get the impression that there have been stormy seas before they got to this point and that a lot of drama has happened. It’s a reflective type of track, at least, it feels that way to me. It starts off quietly and builds up and up and up and then by the time the drums kick in you’re ready to drift away into a bit of a trance or daydream and not think about anything in particular. The original version is good – this remix is better. It’s also a good song to listen to on a plane whilst watching clouds. 

Elbow – One Day Like This

So throw those curtains wide/one day like this a year will see me right

This is an awesome song for getting ready for the day ahead. Listen to it on the way to work and get ready for a really positive, happy day. It helps that Guy Garvey has a lovely, deep, reassuring Northern voice. 

What are your favourite pick me up songs?

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